California Beach City Manhattan Beach Sued for Trademark Infringement

By Joseph Mandour on December 12, 2011

volleyball-thumb-200x133-31740 California – The parent company for the Association of Volleyball Professionals, now out of bankruptcy, is suing the city of Manhattan Beach, CA and the organizers of the 2011 Manhattan Beach Open for trademark infringement, false advertising, and unfair competition.

Last summer, USA Volleyball and the International Management Group (IMG) partnered with the city of Manhattan Beach to host the professional beach volleyball tournament, sponsored by Jose Cuervo.

DFA PVA II Partners, LLC, the corporation that owns the AVP, is alleging in its lawsuit that by hosting the Manhattan Beach Open, the organizers created “confusion, mistake or deception as to the origin, sponsorship or affiliation of the tournament,” therefore depriving the company of revenue that rightfully belongs to it. The complaint also alleges that the organizers “used a confusingly similar imitation” of the AVP logo to market the event, “furthering the false impression that AVP was the source of the tournament.”

The company is demanding that the case by decided by a jury.

According to the Manhattan Beach City Attorney, the city has hosted the Manhattan Beach Open volleyball tournament for 51 years, therefore making it the owner of the trademark. Online records indicate that DFA PVA II registered the Manhattan Beach Open trademark in January 2009.

Apparently, before it declared bankruptcy in 2009, AVP obtained the federal trademark registration for “Manhattan Beach Open” for entertainment services, namely, arranging, organizing, and conducting athletic competitions, exhibitions, and community festivals and cultural events in the nature of volleyball games, tournaments, and competitions,” as indicated by the United States Patent and Trademark Office website. However, federal registration is not the end all for establishing rights to a trademark, and first use often takes precedence.

In its contract with the organizers of the event, USA Volleyball and the IMG, the city of Manhattan beach agreed to “defend, and hold harmless USA Volleyball and IMG from any and all claims, liabilities, expenses, and damages of any nature, including attorneys’ fees” that may come as a result of the contract, including “any legal action by a third party against the use by organizer of the name ‘Manhattan Beach Open,'”.

“We’ll be handling the litigation,” the city attorney stated.

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